COVID-19: A pastor’s perspective: Light in the Darkness

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Father David BonnarEven though it is daylight as I write this reflection, the darkness is overwhelming. Being in quarantine for nearly two weeks makes it even darker. The darkness stretches far beyond me as it encompasses the entire world in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. It is hard to imagine this is really happening. But we need to do what we often do when we find ourselves plunged into a sudden and persistent blackout. We need to look for light even if it is as tiny as a pinpoint of light.

This morning as I was praying, I could hear the birds chirping. As I looked out the window I could see the buds blossoming. I could also feel the temperatures warming. Nevertheless, in spite of these beautiful expressions of spring, I found myself thinking about winter, most especially Christmas. By God’s grace, I was reminded of the popular Christmas carol, “Do You Hear What I Hear.” I attribute this as a fruit of being alone. Somehow, in the desert of solitude, the memories abound and the senses come to life. Anyone who has ever been on retreat can appreciate this thought.

Do you remember the words? “Said the night wind to the little lamb. / Do you see what I see? / Way up in the sky little lamb. / Do you see what I see? / A star. A star. / Dancing in the night with a tail as big as a kite.”

In the darkness of night, there was the light of a star. Our tradition tells us that that star led the Magi to the light of the world. What a sign of hope!

Even in the deep dark of night, there are stars among us pointing to the light of Jesus. For example, I think of what I have seen from my living room window. Every day there are parishioners coming to drop off their weekly offering in the mail slot. Although public Masses have been suspended and churches closed, people continue to contribute to the Church in person or online. Their continued commitment to the Church is a light of hope. They clearly love Jesus and believe in the Church.

During this time of self-isolation, I have also witnessed with my own eyes the care and concern of my parishioners who continue to reach out to their priests in isolation. Whether it is a phone call, text or email, they truly love their priests. While it is our privilege to feed them with God’s word and sacrament, they have been feeding us with their meals, greetings and many acts of kindness. It is so humbling!

There is yet more light in this darkness as our parish staff continues to work, in some cases from home. Currently, they are collectively calling the faithful to check on their wellness. No walls or locked doors can separate us from one another, for the Church is more than bricks and mortar.

Do you see what I see? Take a moment to look into the darkness. Behold the lights of faith in the many men and women who refuse to succumb to the darkness of this moment. With great boldness, these people of the Church are standing up to the darkness of fear with the light of faith. This powerful act of faith on their part commands our awe and gratitude. It also means that we need to go forth and be a light like them pointing to Jesus.

FATHER DAVID J. BONNAR, editor of The Priest, is a pastor of 15 years in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, where he has served in numerous roles. Follow and like The Priest magazine on Facebook.

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